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Have You Played... Shadowgate?

Holding a torch

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There are certain games that over time become more like magical runes than memories. For me, Shadowgate is one such game. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about what happens in Shadowgate, but every screenshot I see, every crude pixel inventory item, is like a magical invocation to my childhood.

As such, I had to search for the game without its name, just spamming Mobygames until I finally stumbled upon the right images. And it was the torches, the simple graphic of the torches, that sent me reeling back to 1987.

Shadowgate was a point-and-click adventure/RPG hybrid, that I’d argue was hugely advanced in its approach to either genre. It was a sort of blobber-meets-adventure, where it adopted verb buttons at a time when Sierra were still using text parsers, and LucasArts had just added them in a far cruder form to Zak Mac. But for me, it’s the graphics that mean the most.

Now, admittedly this magic only works when I look at Atari ST screenshots, because our home was not joined by a PC until a few years later, and the graphics of each version were dramatically different. Some, presumably, will have their nostalgic response for the NES version, since it rather strangely got one of those too.

And now all I want to do is play Shadowgate again. I believe it was quite good. But honestly, I just want to keep experiencing this weird nostalgic time travel. If only I could ever work out how to load games in an ST emu.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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